A Day of Driver Training at the New York State Police Driving Academy

Fellowship is a very appropriate word for the friendship and allegiance between serving and retired police officers, in most parts of the world.

Since I officially moved to the USA, just over 15 years ago, I have had the great good fortune to acquire some excellent friends in American law enforcement.

Some years ago, through one by the name of Steve Kring, I spent a wonderful day on the police shooting range, in Boston, MA, where those who did not previously know it were taken aback to learn that the vast majority of British police officers at that time, like myself, were never armed at all, and that before that particular day I had never even held a handgun in my life.  Such are the differences (and each approach was, of course, correct for its own country).

Signs for the New York State Police Driver Training Academy
New York State Police Driver Training Academy.  (Copyright image.)

Another massive difference in the job between the two countries lies in the type and duration of police driver training, the latter part of which — specifically defensive and advanced driver training for corporations — is now my professional field.  So it was with great delight that I accompanied my good friend, retired T/Sergeant and EVOC instructor Tom Winterstein, to spend an October day at the New York State Police driver training facility, located on a former airfield.

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It is ‘Move Over OR Slow Down’ for Static Emergency Vehicles

On October 22, 2018, New York State Department of Transportation [#NYSDOT],  in a Facebook post, became yet another major body to publish a description of the ‘Move Over Law’ that can be seen as being too confusing.

Photo of a driver failing to move over, away from workers, even though it would have been easy to do so
A driver failing to move over, away from workers, even though it would have been easy to do so.  (Copyright photograph.)

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USA Commercial Trucking & SUV Fatalities Up Significantly

Despite the fact that data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Oct. 3 indicates highway fatalities declined overall in 2017 after two consecutive years of large increases, the agency added that highway fatalities in 2017 jumped significantly in the sport utility vehicle or SUV category and commercial trucking sector. Fatalities among SUV occupants climbed 3 percent, and deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers jumped 5.8 percent.

Photo looking down on a fast-moving semi-tractor-trailer.
Semi-tractor-trailer.  Copyright image.

Clearly, the reduction in overall deaths is very much to be welcomed, however it still needs to be viewed relative to the USA, in the long-term, still being the poorest-performing of 30 developed nations.

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See the AASHTO article about the NHTSA figures.

Advanced Drivers of North America has joined the Road to Zero Coalition

Advanced Drivers of North America is pleased to have become a member of the Road to Zero Coalition [RTZ].

The Road to Zero Coalition logoAmong the many worthy goals of RTZ are those shown below on which we at Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] place particular focus and in most instances we are in a position to promote or advise upon.

Photograph of the scene of a fatal road crash in the USA.
A fatal road traffic crash (not “accident”) which I came across by chance on my travels in the USA. Copyright image.

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Will the USA Get Safer Road Signs? — The FHWA is updating the MUTCD!

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced this month (October 2018) that it is pursuing an update to the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways” — the MUTCD — in preparation for the future of automated vehicles and to afford states and local communities with more opportunities to utilize innovation.

Photograph of a "Bump" sign but the p is covered by snow.
Who knew that snow has a sense of humor? (Copyright image, 2013)

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Autonomous Vehicles: Current Driver Assistance Features Assessed

While many people are eagerly anticipating the inevitable additional safety of autonomous vehicles, and others are wildly exaggerating how quickly this will all be available, it is apparent that none of it is truly imminent.

Rear three-quarter view of a Tesla Model S 85 sedan.
Good looking from any angle, a Tesla Model S 85;  a very enjoyable car to drive. (Copyright image.)

Indeed, as the first steps in just semi-autonomy, adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping are only now getting detailed appraisal, yet these features are only the tip of the autonomy iceberg.

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U.S. Roundabouts can Create Risks and Confusion

On September 18, 2018, Maine DOT published the following wording and roundabout design on their Facebook page, but unfortunately the layout is unsatisfactory:

“It’s National Roundabout Week! Roundabouts have proven to be far safer than traditional intersections, but some people are still unsure of how to navigate them…” 

The problem is that, like most other states, Maine is apparently following the Federal Highways Administration [FHWA] ethos on roundabout construction but such guidelines deliberately ignore global best practices that have been developed over the fifty years in which the USA failed to build what are properly called “modern roundabouts.”  Sadly, the result is roundabouts that can have multiple potential safety flaws, just like the one in this illustration, as posted by Maine DOT.

The full layout of a new roundabout, as published by Maine DOT on September 18, 2018.

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Defensive and Advanced Driving Courses in Montreal, Canada

Whether it is due perhaps to long-term rigorous traffic enforcement, to the mandatory driver training for all young drivers, or to a good safety culture in general, drivers in Montreal certainly appear to have a better-than-average attitude towards Vulnerable Road Users [VRU], and in turn, this makes the city a pleasant place for training (or learning) defensive and advanced driving.

Cars in Montreal typically stop well before the stop line at crosswalks, creating greater safety for pedestrians.
As is common in Montreal, the cars in this photograph have stopped well before the crosswalk ‘stop’ line (rather than on it or even after it) which makes things much safer for pedestrians.  (Copyright image, 2018.)

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